Personal Capital and Mint are two of the most prominent financial services platforms. They offer a free service that gives users powerful money management or investment tools to help manage their spending, investing, and more.
These two services are frequently compared. But while there are overlapping similarities between the two, each has a different primary function. For example, while Personal Capital is primarily an investment management platform, Mint.com is a budgeting application.
Because these two programs offer many robust features, I find them viable alternatives to Quicken, one of the original money management apps. In my opinion, Quicken has been surpassed by these and other software apps.
Personal Capital vs. Mint.com – what are the similarities? What are the differences? Let’s compare the two.
What Personal Capital Does
As noted above, Personal Capital is primarily an investment management service. Over 1.4 million people use the service to track more than $350 billion in assets.
They offer two services, the free version, and a premium wealth management service. Both versions offer you the various tools and features on the platform, but the premium version provides active investment management, similar to that of robo-advisors.
There is no obligation to sign up for the Personal Capital Wealth Management service.
So you can sign up for a free Personal Capital account and use their online suite of tools as long as you wish.
Here are the services that Personal Capital provides:
Budgeting & Cash Flow Management
Personal Capital does offer a budgeting function, but when compared to that offered by Mint, it’s extremely limited. For example, Personal Capital lets you track your cash flow and provide insights into your spending habits.
It can also allow you to view and analyze the transactions in your budget and provide monthly summaries. This can help you know exactly where your money goes each month.
You do this by linking your various bank accounts and credit cards to the Personal Capital app. They provide a Cash Flow Analyzer tool that enables you to establish a budget by tracking your income and expenses from all accounts and sources.
This will also help you to pay your bills on time and to track your spending. The money management app will alert you to upcoming bills, however, there is no bill-paying function on the platform.
You can also use the Cash Flow Analyzer to establish long-term goals, like retirement planning or getting out of debt.
The budgeting function is available for both the free and the premium versions.
This service is only available on the premium version, and it’s what Personal Capital does best.
Where Personal Capital differs from typical robo-advisors is that not only do they manage the investments that you include in the service, but they also act as a financial account aggregator.
That means that in managing specific investment accounts, Personal Capital also considers other investments it does not manage, such as an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
This gives you more comprehensive investment management than you typically see in automated investment management platforms.
The investment management service requires a minimum of $25,000 under management. When you sign up for the service, they start by determining your risk tolerance, your investment goals, and your personal preferences.
From that, they design an investment portfolio based on Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), which is typical of robo-advisor services.
The portfolio will be allocated between US stocks and bonds, international stocks and bonds, and commodities. The positions are maintained through index funds, but if your portfolio exceeds $100,000, they will also include individual stocks.
Tax-loss harvesting (TLH). Personal Capital offers this with the premium investment management service. TLH is an investment strategy involving selling losing investments to offset gains on the sale of winning positions.
The strategy keeps short-term capital gains to a minimum, which minimizes your tax liability.
They also include tax allocation with the investment service. This is the process of having various assets in the most tax-advantaged account.
For example, assets that produce interest and dividend income are likely in tax-sheltered retirement plans. Capital gains generating assets are likely in taxable accounts, where they can take advantage of lower long-term capital gains tax rates.
Private Client Group. This is the investment service offered for individuals who invest a minimum of $1 million on the platform.
It provides a progressively lower fee structure, with fees declining as your portfolio grows (see below). Private Client Group provides personalized investment services and wealth planning, including direct access to a certified financial planner.
Personal Capital also provides certain investment services under the free version.
Investment Checkup. This is a personal analysis of your financial situation, including an assessment of the risks and opportunities available. You enter all of your financial accounts onto the platform, and then they are evaluated.
Personal Capital will suggest changes in those accounts to create an optimal allocation. (Or make changes directly in any accounts they manage under the premium service.) You are also assigned a personal advisor you can contact anytime.
Retirement Planner. This will help you determine whether you have enough money saved for retirement. It lets you assess spending goals, income events, and projected future portfolio value.
It also enables you to create “what if” scenarios, in which you plug in different variables to determine the outcome of various strategies.
Here is more information on the Personal Capital Retirement Planner tool.
401(k) Analyzer. This tool analyzes your 401(k) plan to determine which investment options within your plan have the lowest fees. It also makes allocation suggestions, though it cannot implement those changes as it does not manage employer plans.
Personal Capital Dashboard:
Personal Capital has one of the most valuable dashboards among financial apps. When you log in to your Personal Capital account, your dashboard will display the following:
- Net Worth
- Account Balances and Transactions
- Cash Flow
- Spending by Account, Category
- Portfolio Balances
- Income Reports
- Portfolio Allocations
- Key Holdings
- Investment Returns
- Top Gainers and Losers
- Projected Investment Fees
- Spending Reports and Upcoming Bills
While this may seem like a lot of information, and it is, it is not overwhelming. The information is easy to view and understand, giving you a quick overview of your finances without searching through the data to make sense of your financial health and current progress.
Even more detailed information is available with a few clicks of the mouse, giving you access to a wealth of information you can use for financial planning.
What Mint.com Does
Mint was purchased by Intuit, the creator of Quicken and TurboTax (Intuit has since sold Quicken to a private equity firm). Mint is an online personal budgeting platform that essentially brings your entire financial existence into one application.
You link your checking and savings accounts, investments, retirement accounts, credit cards, and even your PayPal account to the application. You can then view your entire financial situation on one platform.
It is one of the most popular budgeting apps available.
This is what Mint is most known for and what it does best. Since they have all your account information assembled in one place – is that information presented as “read only.”
That means that while you can access the information, Mint has no control over any of the included accounts.
The platform categorizes all of your financial activity from the various accounts. They have both default categories and the ability to customize them in a way that will work best for you.
Mint can categorize and summarize your activity with all your financial information on the platform.
You can create a budget that will enable you to measure your activity against your predetermined spending targets. Mint can even compare your spending in each budget category with national averages.
The platform will also provide alerts to inform you when bills are due or when you might be in danger of going over credit limits on a credit card or credit line. You can schedule bill payments in advance to ensure you’re never late.
Mint Goals. This tool will help you to create goals in your financial profile. For example, you can establish goals such as getting out of debt or saving money for specific purposes. Once the goals are established, the tool will track your progress.
One of the tools that Mint is best known for is its ability to analyze financial offers. For example, Mint can tell you where to get the highest interest rates on savings or the lowest rates on credit cards.
They can also tell you where you will find the lowest investment fees or where the best insurance and IRA rollover deals are.
This is a service that Mint provides that Personal Capital doesn’t. Not only will Mint provide you with your free credit score, but they will also give you suggestions on improving that score.
The service will also provide credit monitoring alerts if any accounts show suspicious activity. It will also let you know anytime Equifax receives new credit information from the various lenders you deal with.
One of the most attractive aspects of the Mint credit monitoring service is that they don’t require you to provide credit card information to access the service. It’s truly free, and you don’t need to provide any kind of payment information.
Limited Investment Management
Mint is very limited when it comes to investments. The platform does not offer an investment management service comparable to that of Personal Capital.
Mint allows you to track your investment accounts and summarize them on the app. No investment advice is provided, nor are there any investment tools that Personal Capital offers.
However, there is one investment service that they do provide, and that’s fee analysis. The app can highlight fees that may be hidden on investment statements.
This can include advisory fees, transaction fees, and 401(k) fees. But in truth, this service alone is insufficient to justify the use of Mint in managing your investments. It’s just not what Mint is about.
Fees – Personal Capital vs. Mint.com
It’s important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples when considering fees. Mint.com is free to use, and Personal Capital offers two levels of service: one is completely free to use, and the other charges an investment management fee based on the total assets under management.
Mint doesn’t offer a comparable investment management service, so comparing fees is a comparison between apples and oranges.
Instead, you need to consider the total value the apps and services offer.
Mint.com Fees – Mint provides their budget app free of charge.
Personal Capital Fees – Personal Capital has both a free version (online and mobile) and a paid version – the Wealth Management service.
Here is the fee structure for the Personal Capital Wealth Management service:
- 0.89% of the first $1 million under management
- 0.79% of the next $2 million (up to $3 million)
- 0.69% of the next $2 million (up to $5 million)
- 0.59% of the next $5 million (up to $10 million)
- 0.49% on balances over $10 million
Personal Capital’s fee structure is a good bit higher than what you will pay for other automated investment management platforms – a.k.a., robo-advisors. But at the same time, the fee is all-inclusive. They do not charge additional fees, like commissions and other investment fees.
In addition, Personal Capital will aggregate investment accounts that are not included in the wealth management service. For example, Personal Capital will include your 401(k) plan assets in their portfolio allocations, but they will not charge a fee for this service.
The fee structure applies only to the service’s existing assets under management.
How Personal Capital and Mint Make Money
Personal Capital makes money from those users who decide to use their wealth management services. This is why they require your mobile number as part of the signup process because they will call you to offer paid services.
As part of this, they will offer to run a free analysis of your investment portfolio and how they believe their services can help you. You don’t have to accept this free analysis or use them to manage your investments.
Mint relies on advertising to make money. You’ll get targeted offers for bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts integrated into the user invoice.
Mint vs. Personal Capital – The Better Choice Is…
Actually both! Mint is a very strong budget application. If you’re looking primarily for budgeting software, you can’t go wrong with it.
And the fact that the service is completely free means that you should at least give it a try.
Personal Capital also features a robust budgeting tool, so PC makes a great choice for those who want to track their household budget, while also managing investments, tracking net worth, and handling other financial tasks.
If investment management is your primary objective, then Personal Capital is the obvious choice.
You can also get free many investment services on this platform. The asset allocation tool is incredibly valuable for DIY investors and is included in the free online version of Personal Capital.
Should you opt for a more hands-off investing approach, you can opt into Personal capital’s Wealth Management service and let Personal Capital manage your investments. Their platform makes it easy to allow them to manage everything.
You can turn over a portion of your portfolio, make investment decisions based on your risk tolerance and inputs, and consider other investment accounts, such as your 401k.
Verdict: Depending on your needs, you can use Mint.com, Personal Capital, or both apps. There’s no real conflict here since each provides its own specialization.
Visit these sites for more information or to sign up for a free account:
You can also read our Personal Capital Review for more detailed information about Personal Capital.
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James @ Redefined Finance says
Personally, I am an avid user of Personal Capital. Although I have never used Mint before, I can say with confidence that I do not need another personal finance tool as long as Personal Capital is available. I highly recommend it to anybody who is serious about getting a grip on their personal finances.
I like how you described the differences between the two. Personal Capital does seem to be more appropriate for the investor mindset; which is exactly what I have. The tool enables you to view your budgets, cash flow, and investments which enables you to track PROGRESS. I also discuss Personal Capital on my site as well. Everyone is their own CFO…and Personal Capital puts you in the driver seat!
I prefer Mint over Personal Capital and I think your post describes why – Mint is more budget-oriented while Personal Capital is more investment-oriented. I like to keep track of my spending at least daily, whereas I don’t keep as close as tabs on my investments – normally I keep a monthly tally in an Excel spreadsheet.
There’s also the fact that I’ve had a Mint account for a long time, while I’ve never had a Personal Capital account.
Ryan Guina says
JoeHx, I recommend checking out Personal Capital. I also keep track of my investments in Excel on monthly basis. This gives me a rough idea of how my investments and net worth have progressed over time. It also keeps me engaged – I log into each account every month to make the updates. This keeps me on top of things and makes sure I don’t miss anything such as fees, or if the worst were to happen – identity theft or a scam.
But what I love about Personal Capital is the asset allocation tool, which does more than you can do in Excel. The tool shows you all your investments by type and helps you know if your asset allocation is in line with your preferences. Personal Capital also shows you investments fees by fund, which is a great way to identify areas to reduce expenses. I used this tool to exchange certain funds to some that were more in line with my preferred asset allocation, but also had much lower management fees. This saved me several hundred dollars per year – which really adds up over a couple decades! You can do some of this in Excel, but the research is very time intensive and not as accurate as the automated tools in Personal Capital. Since it’s free to use, I’d give it a shot and see if you like it. It saved me several hundred dollars per year, which I have to imagine is worth several thousand dollars when compounded over a few decades. not bad for a free tool!